Thermal spray coatings are used to protect surfaces against exposure to severe conditions. To insure a reliable protection, not only the structure and properties of the sprayed coatings must be optimized but also one needs to develop appropriate process control techniques to produce high performance coatings in a consistent manner, day after day. This is particularly important during plasma spraying as the wear of the electrodes affects significantly the plasma characteristics and consequently the coating properties. First, in this paper, the stability of plasma spray processes is investigated by monitoring in-flight particle characteristics and plasma fluctuations. Secondly, the possibility and advantages of controlling plasma spray processes by monitoring and regulating the condition of the sprayed particles are discussed. Finally, we will see how the properties of thermal barrier coatings and wear resistant coatings can be optimized by controlling the temperature and velocity of the sprayed particles both in the plasma spray and HVOF (high velocity oxy-fuel) processes.